Archive for February, 2014

“Used and Tossed Away”

“Christine Sabiyumva……..says she has known how serious the problem is for years, but fought a lonely battle, mainly because she had no budget and because police chiefs were not interested.”

These words are indicative of the attituted around the world about this ever growing and horific injustice. I wonder, how many of the black marks on the history of mankind were perpetuated by this very attitude. The inquisition, the crusades, the enxlavement of the african people by american citizens, apartheid, Hitler and the killing of 6 million Jews. Rwanda, Sudan, and the list goes on and on…. How many of these could have been avoided or at least squelched if someone had stood up and said NO! If someone would have taken the time and effort to look outside of themselves for a moment and dig beneath the surface to see the reality of what is happening right under their nose.

The following story from the Guardian is of three girls who were in essence, victims of the apathy of the culture around them. Let’s learn from their story and choose today to be the avenue for change.

Burundi’s child sex slaves: ‘I feel like I have been used and tossed away’

Child intermediaries working for pimps recruit young girls who are then either forced into prostitution or sold abroad.
MDG : Child's handprint on a window
Burundi’s child sex slaves include girls from poor rural backgrounds and those brought up in middle-class families in the capital.
Pamela comes from an affluent family and was doing well in one of Bujumbura’s best-performing high schools – until two years ago, when she became a sex slave.

She recalls befriending a group of girls when she was 14, who at first proposed she join them when they went out. The trips led to dates with older men who would pick up the bill, initially without asking for anything in return.

One night she was taken to a house in Kiriri, a smart residential district in Bujumbura, Burundi‘s capital, where she was held for three months under the supervision of men in police uniform.

“When a client came, if you didn’t want to go with him they would slap you and whip the soles of your feet,” Pamela says, her voice trembling. She was freed in a police raid after her mother reported her missing.

“Such places exist in every part of town. You just have to open your eyes to see them,” says Florence Boivin-Roumestan, who leads Justice and Equity, a Canadian NGO that has exposed the vast scale of sex trafficking in the small central African nation.

“After months of investigations, we’re seeing that human trafficking and sex trafficking in particular exists in Burundi on a scale no one would have imagined.”

Victims include girls from poor rural backgrounds and those brought up in middle-class families in the capital.

In a months-long investigation, Justice and Equity found that young girls were being recruited across the country and either forced into prostitution or sold abroad. “You find girls of nine or 10, but most of them are in the 13, 14, 15 age range,” Boivin-Roumestan says.

The trafficking takes different forms. In Bujumbura, it is girls from well-off families who are targeted in the best schools. Fellow pupils of both sexes are recruited by pimps to play the role of intermediaries. They gradually gain the confidence of the victims, who eventually end up in brothels.

Keza, who comes from a poor district in the capital, says she was locked up and used as a sex slave by a senior intelligence officer for several months when she was 15. “He threatened me and he threatened my parents,” she says, adding that she no longer wishes to see her family after the ordeal.

“I filed a formal complaint against him and he received several summons, but he has never shown up. The case has gone nowhere.”

Khadija, 15, a Muslim girl from a poor rural family, remains traumatised by her year-long ordeal, during which she was lured to the Gulf. “Some people came to see my parents and said they had well-paid domestic work for me in Oman,” she says, staring at her feet.

“In fact, I worked 16 hours a day, every day. I slept on the floor and I was never paid anything … Whenever my back was turned they would come up from behind and try to lift up my dress.”

Eventually she escaped and was able to return home. “I came back with just the clothes I had on my back and the plastic slippers I had on my feet,” she says.

The three girls have been placed with families who work with Justice and Equity.

Boivin-Roumestan says it is difficult to establish exactly how many children are affected. In Rumonge, for example, a small lakeside town south of Bujumbura, the investigation found that of the 50 adult sex workers questioned, half had been forced into the trade while they were underage.

President Pierre Nkurunziza has vowed a crackdown. “Things are changing. My budget has been increased, focal points are being set up in every province. Today something is being done,” says Christine Sabiyumva, head of Burundi’s youth brigade. She says she has known how serious the problem is for years, but fought a lonely battle, mainly because she had no budget and because police chiefs were not interested.

Trafficking networks have been dismantled in several towns and some brothels have been raided and closed in the past two months. “Arrests are made every day. We have meetings with ministers, generals, churches, youth groups and lawyers who all want to end this traffic,” Boivin-Roumestan says. “But everything needs to be done. It’ll take some time to end.”

For some of the victims it is too little, too late. “I’m angry, very angry. I feel like I’ve been used and tossed away,” says Pamela, who is too scared to return to her family. “I want those who are responsible for what happened to me to be punished.”

Her pimp was arrested after she was freed, but he has since been released. Pamela plans to go back to school and later pursue a law degree so she can “help other girls who suffer what I suffered”.

So what are you doing to fight injustice in your community? We would love to here from you. Share your stories below.


5 Ways People Are Trafficked

We are so very gullible as a people, aren’t we? Most of us really want to believe that the human race is basically good. But the reality is that evil is alive and very present in our surrounding world. This is the flip side of looking beneath the surface. Not every person you meet is a safe person. And it is a wise person who is aware of the dangers, so he or she can steer clear.

I came across this extremely eye-opening blog on the A21 Website. Besides the blog itself, I found the comments very enlightening as well.

These tactics are just as widely used in the United States as anywhere else. Please share with your loved ones so they can take proper measures to ensure their safety.

Across the globe, an estimated 27 million people are in slavery. Everyone’s story is unique. There are countless methods used to recruit victims, but here are 5 main ways people can be trafficked:

1. Misleading “Friendships” – Some recruiters befriend teens and adults for the sake of trafficking them. After they develop trust and a seemingly solid friendship, the recruiters initiate a weekend vacation or gig, only to deceive them into trafficking.

2. False Job Advertisements – Traffickers will advertise paying jobs (nanny, waitress, model, etc.) in a foreign country. When the applicants arrive and are picked up by their supposed boss, their paperwork is often taken and they are forced into work conditions vastly different than they had been led to believe.

3. Family Arrangements – In some cases, a family falls on financial hard times and is willing to sell a child for money. Parents are often promised their child will be taken care of and given a proper education. Sadly, the buyer rarely holds up to his or her part of the deal and the children or adolescents are resold into the trafficking industry.

4. Abductions – Many trafficked victims are kidnapped on their way to school, work, or home and later sold into slavery.

5. Sham Lover – Some women unknowingly marry a recruiter and are then sold by their husbands. Other women are pimped out by their boyfriends and forced or manipulated into commercial sex.

We believe education is a key component in abolishing slavery in the 21st century. Now that you know, who can YOU inform?

Comments

lc – October 1, 2013 at 3:49pm

Thanks for your story ^^^ we HAVE to stay aware.

Isha – September 21, 2013 at 11:17pm

Please stop using the words “trafficked” and “trafficking”. These words are part of the problem, because they result in the general public not taking any notice. These people are *kidnapped* and they are *slaves* and they many of them are continually *raped*. Euphemisms do not help.

nicola Leitch – September 19, 2013 at 2:46pm

Some young ladies are drugged in clubs…never ever leave your drink or even drink something that is out of a can that you open…barmen are sometimes paid to slip something into a drink…In fact be aware of your surroundings. Clubs and raves are notorious places for unscrupulous people to traffic girls. Try and stick together in a group and watch out for one another.

Jocelyn Gandy – September 19, 2013 at 1:43pm

When I was in my early 20’s I traveled extensively in South East Asia. I met an Indian man in Agra who wished to sing around the world with me. He invited me to his bands evenings, asked me to dress in saris. He taught me Indian songs and instructed me in sitar. One morning there were two ? Hungarian boys at the shop where I had my music lessons. They gave me a bung lassie,..ok bung is cannabis. This drink didn’t have bung in it though. I was very frightened, by the comments made by these boys ie: don’t worry she isn’t going anywhere. Also by my rickshaw driver referred to my singing teacher as my master. I decided to leave Agra as fast as I could, although it was difficult to get a train ticket as a single white woman. I was starting to hallucinate by this time, I just knew I had to get out of Agra. I spent 4 days tripping on Jaipur station and then spent a month in a hospital in New Deli. Very few people believed my story when I returned to Australia. Travelling alone as a blond young gullible Australian who believed that people are basically friends, can be extremely dangerous. Have fun traveling, but always be aware, this does happen.


Who Will Make a Stand?

Few-People

Organizations who seek to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking are few and far between. Statistics tell us that only about 1% of the 27 million trapped there are rescued.

Perhaps people would get more involved if they were aware of the resources available to enable them to take action. I have found a few organizations who are really making a difference in this issue. But they need help. Our help.

I will highlight a different organization periodically. This organization in particular is making a huge dent in this issue. It is definitely a good place to start when seeking a place to get involved.

A21 CAMPAIGN

PREVENTION

We prevent trafficking through awareness and education. In schools, orphanages, and universities, we have created presentations and curriculum to educate potential victims of trafficking. Young people are equipped with strategies to avoid becoming a victim.

We also believe prevention occurs by educating those not necessarily as victims, but as suppliers in the human slave trade. Whether it’s through our street teams or university awareness, churches or community groups, our prevention presentations in nine different countries aim to prevent trafficking through awareness before it begins.

Protection

PROTECTION

We protect those who have been trafficked by building shelters and transition homes. Our restoration facilities are safe places for survivors to feel empowered to live in freedom. We want to move trafficking survivors past crisis to stabilization, equip them with skills they can use in the future, and assist them with making the next step after leaving our care.

Prosecution

PROSECUTION

We prosecute traffickers and strengthen the legal response to human trafficking. We provide legal counsel to every victim in our care, and represent them in criminal proceedings.

Partnerships

PARTNERSHIPS

We partner with local law enforcement, service providers, and community members to meet a comprehensive set of needs for those rescued from bondage. We aim to strengthen every aspect of anti-trafficking efforts so together we can see injustice abolished.

So lets dig in and get involved!


Natalie Grant ‘s Endeavor to Fight Human Trafficking

We have talked in length about the problem of human trafficking. Here is one organization who is part of the solution.


Human Trafficking in America – Awareness is the key.

Video link to an interview with Senator Marco Rubio who says "awareness is the key"

Video link to an interview with Senator Marco Rubio who says “awareness is the key”

Hello again. I’m so glad your here. I came across this video and thought it might help to see more clearly beneath the surface. In addition, below is an excerpt of a page from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on the tell tale signs that you have just met a victim of human trafficking:

Know the Red Flags

Some indicators raise a red flag that a person may be a victim of human trafficking. Take notice in situations where a person:

Chronic runaway/homeless youth

Lying about age/false ID

Injuries/signs of physical abuse (that they may be reluctant to explain)

Has untreated illnesses or infections. Examples: Diabetes, cancer, TB.

Has STDs, HIV/Aids, pelvic pain/inflammation, rectal trauma, urinary difficulties, abdominal or genital trauma.

Inability or fear of social interaction

Carries hotel keys/ key cards

Exhibits emotional distress such as depression, submissiveness, anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, phobias, disorientation, self-inflicted injuries or suicide attempts.

Inconsistencies when describing and recounting events

Unable or unwilling to give local address or information about parent(s)/guardian

Presence or fear of another person (often an older male or boyfriend who seems controlling)

Sexually explicit profiles on social networking sites

High number of reported sexual partners at a young age

Talks about an older boyfriend or sex with an older man/boyfriend.

Uses words associated with the commercial sex industry.

Has a prepaid cell phone.

May try to protect trafficker from authorities, have loyalty to trafficker, not identify as a victim.

Has an unexplained sudden increase in money, clothing or other goods.

Is frequently truant from school or not enrolled.

History of abuse and/or trauma (rape, violent crime etc.).

Also Note:

It is important to talk to potential victims in a safe and confidential environment. If the victim is accompanied by someone who seems to have control over them, discretely attempt to separate the person from the individual accompanying him/her, without arousing suspicion, since this person could be the trafficker.

As needed, enlist the help of a professional who speaks the potential victim’s language and understands his or her culture.
Do not collect more information than you need! In depth interviews with the potential victim should be conducted by mental health professionals, law enforcement professionals or legal experts. Multiple interviews may confuse and/or re-traumatize victims and may put you, as a service provider, at risk of being subpoenaed as a witness.

Anyone under 18 engaging in commercial sex is legally a severe trafficking victim. Force, fraud or coercion does not need to be present as in the case of someone over 18.

Willingness and availability are the first steps to affecting change. Be the miracle someone is praying for. As we talk more, we will discuss other ways we can help end this heinous injustice. Thanks for stopping by, I’m so proud of you.


As Close as Your Front Porch

It is easy to turn a blind eye to the issue of human trafficking, when you look at all the statistics pointing to foreign countries. Even the statistics noted for human trafficking in the US declare that 14,500 to 17,500 of women and children are trafficked into this country each year. However, the numbers of woman and children who are being trafficked within our own borders is more than alarming. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, slavery is alive, and growing at an astronomical rate. According to statistics in the United States:

·        7 years is the average life of a commercial sex slave, once trafficked

·        18,000 to 20,000 People are trafficked across US borders annually

·        83% of victims in confirmed sex-trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens

·        12-14 years is the average age of entry into sex trafficking

·        33% of all runaways will be sexually exploited within 48 hours

·        90% of runaways will ultimately end up in the commercial sex trade

If these numbers aren’t sobering enough, TODAY NEWS reports the experts estimate 300,000 young children are sexually exploited every year. The following video tells a chilling and yet all too common scenario.

Teen recounts horror of abduction into sex slavery

These are not just numbers and facts. These are women and children who have been forced into the most heinous abuse. This could be a young girl you encounter at the corner market. This could be your daughters friend at school. This could be the prostitute we have been taught to disregard as trash and the dregs of society. So this brings us full circle really, to the deeper questions. Who are the people we meet from day to day? Can we take the time to look below the surface? We can and we must. Someones life may depend on it.